Asia Pacific Bulletin: FEBRUARY

Welcome to the IFJ Asia-Pacific’s monthly e-bulletin.

Pro-democracy activists protest against the National Anthem Law that was tabled in Hong Kong parliament in January 2019. Credit: Anthony WALLACE/AFP

Welcome to the IFJ Asia-Pacific’s monthly e-bulletin. The next bulletin will be sent on March 1, 2019 and contributions from affiliates are most welcome. To contribute, email ifj@ifj-asia.org

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In this bulletin:

  1. IFJ & affiliates criticize BuzzFeed redundancies
  2. Indonesia: Journalist killer receives presidential pardon
  3. Press freedom crackdown in China: several journalists jailed
  4. Journalists attacked and blocked in Kashmir, India
  5. Hong Kong: Proposed National Anthem Law threat to freedom of expression
  6. Sri Lankan journalist intimidated covering protest
  7. IFJ Blog: Working conditions for foreign journalists in China worsening
  8. IFJ Blog: Remembering Ging Ginanjar, Founder of AJI Indonesia
  9. Sri Lanka: Centre for Investigative Reporting launches
  10. FMM meet with HR Commission over media attacks

 

  1. IFJ & affiliates criticize BuzzFeed redundancies

BuzzFeed announced that over 200 employees, 15 per cent of its overall global workforce would be made redundant. On January 25, 43 of BuzzFeed’s 250 employees in the USA were made redundant, including the entire news desk. In London, 17 positions at BuzzFeed were put forward for redundancy, while on Tuesday January 29, staff in BuzzFeed’s Australia offices were told that as many as 25 of the 40 employees would be made redundant. BuzzFeed Spain and Mexico were closed as part of the global restructure.

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA), the National Union of Journalists, UK and Ireland (NUJ) and the Authors Guild strongly criticized the decision, calling for wider consultations for BuzzFeed to find a sustainable model.

Read more here.

  1.  Indonesia: Journalist killer receives presidential pardon

In January, Indonesian President Joko Widodo gave a pardon to I Nyoman Susrama, the convicted killer of Balinese journalist AA Gde Bagus Narendra Prabangsa. Based on the decree from President Jokowi, Susrama’s sentence was reduced from life to 20 years. Anak Agung Narendra Prabangsa, 41, was a reporter with the Indonesian language daily Radar Bali. His family reported him missing on February 12, 2009. Prior to his disappearance Prabangsa had been receiving threatening phone calls and text messages for several weeks before he disappeared.

Read more here.

  1. Press freedom crackdown in China: several journalists jailed

On January 30, Liu Feiyue, a journalist and the founder and director of Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch (Msguancha.com), dedicated to exposing human rights violations against grassroots activists in China, was jailed for 5 years for inciting subversion and publishing an article opposed to the socialist system.

On January 19, Australian writer, democracy activist and former Chinese diplomat Yang Hengjun was detained at Guangzhou airport. On January 24, it was confirmed that he was being held on suspicion of ‘engaging in criminal activities that endangered China’s national security’. His lawyers said he was being kept on ‘residential surveillance’.

On December 28, Zhen Jianghua, executive director of Human Rights Campaign in China, was sentenced to two years in prison by the Zhuhai Court (Guangdong), also under the charge of "inciting subversion of state power”.

Ding Linjie, editor of the human rights news website Minsheng Guancha (Civic Rights and Livelihood Watch), was also sentenced to 20 months in prison on December 28. The Shijingshan District Court in Beijing sentenced Ding for ‘disturbing social order

On December 25, 2018, Sun Lin, a citizen reporter and a former contributor to the US-based Chinese news website Boxun, was sentenced to four years jail for "inciting subversion of state power” by the Nanjing Intermediate People's Court. According to authorities, Sun did not appear in court as he was ‘emotionally unstable’.

Read more here, here and here.

  1.  Journalists attacked and blocked in Kashmir, India

Journalists in Jammu and Kashmir, India, were attacked and blocked from covering events in January, raising questions about press freedom and safety in the region.

On January 22, four journalists were attacked with pellets by police during a clash between anti-government protesters and authorities. In a statement after the incident, police said they did not know the group were journalists, and did not deliberately target them.

On January 26, six photojournalists were barred from the Sher-i-Kashmir stadium to cover Srinagar’s Republic Day celebrations. The security wing of the Jammu and Kashmir police claimed there was an adverse report from the Criminal Investigation Department about them. This despite the fact that the six journalists had been issued security clearance passes by the police. Authorities claim the barring was an administrative error.

Read more here.

  1.  Hong Kong: Proposed National Anthem Law threat to freedom of expression

The National Anthem Bill was tabled to the Legislative Council of Hong Kong for a first and second reading on January 23, 2019. The HKJA is concerned that the proposed articles in the law do not contain any exemption clauses that would protect journalists from prosecution if they report the activities and events that may violate the law.  Whether the media that reprint or replay the materials would bear legal responsibility is not clearly stated which could lead to media self-censorship to avoid potential prosecution.

Read more here.

  1.  Sri Lankan journalist intimidated covering protest

Sri Lanka journalist Rahul Samantha Hettiarachchi was obstructed from reporting on a protest on January 23, 2019 in Habmantota, southern Sri Lanka. Hettiarachchi was covering protests by workers on a salt production site. During the protest, a group claiming to be supporters of the country’s ruling United National Party started to intimidate and obstruct Hettiarachchi. The next day, he lodged a complaint with the Hambantota Police Headquaters (CIB complaint no. 392/228) but claims police did not take the matter seriously.

Read more here.

  1.  IFJ Blog: Working conditions for foreign journalists in China worsening

The reporting environment for international journalists in China is worsening in virtually every important respect, according to a survey of correspondent members conducted by the Foreign Correspondents Club of China. The 2018 survey constitutes a detailed and depressing document, with 55% of respondents saying they believe conditions have deteriorated, well above the 40% who expressed that sentiment in the FCCC’s 2017 survey.

Read more here.

  1.  IFJ Blog: Remembering Ging Ginanjar, Founder of AJI Indonesia

A founder of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI Indonesia), senior BBC journalist Ging Ginanjar, died aged 54 on Sunday, January 20. Ging was known for his commitment to protect press freedom, freedom of expression, and human rights.

Read more here.

  1.  Sri Lanka: Centre for Investigative Reporting launches

On January 30 the Centre for Investigative Reporting launched in Sri Lanka, addressing a long felt vacuum. CIR executive director, Dilrukshi Handunnetti said: “The Center is a collective effort of a group of journalists and media trainers who wish to raise the bar in Sri Lankan journalism. The Center is conceptualised and driven by Sri Lankan journalists for journalists here.”

  1. FMM meet with HR Commission over media attacks

In January, the Free Media Movement (FMM) met with the chairperson of the Human Rights Commission in Sri Lanka to draw attention to media attacks, and outstanding investigations.

Read more here.

 

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

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